A reminder: Next Thursday (July 12th), there will be a Love Letters party at Harpoon. Come see the brewery and talk about advice, books, and beer.
Also: If you're on Nantucket on the 19th ...
Now it's time for some holiday updates from former letter writers.
The first is from a letter writer who wanted to be less open:
You were right about boundaries being flexible. We renegotiated our relationship rules. Now there's only one: Be exclusive with each other, and if our feelings change, say something.
I think that last part is key: people change, then don't tell each other.
Turns out, by the time you had posted my letter, my boyfriend and I had stopped seeing other people. We no longer wanted whatever freedom open relationships allowed us to have, but we wouldn't talk about it. It's always so scary, Meredith, to tell someone you want change, especially when you're asking to change something nice. There's no way to know if you're ruining what you have, and no way to un-ask once the words are in the air.
I think we have above average communication skills because our weird relationship depended on it, and yet we still couldn't have this conversation.
Instead, we got too drunk at a bar, and realized we were jealous of things the other had no intention of doing. We fought the rest of that night about the way I dance with other men, the drinks he buys for other girls. We fought with each other even though we were on the same side of the argument. That was too bad. But it opened the door to having a real conversation about how things have changed.
We haven't fought since that night. It's too easy to be happy with him now that we know we just want to be happy with each other. We don't know what our future selves will want, but we know for sure that people do change, and if we do, we won't forget to tell each other.
Very good. Now an update from a letter writer about a boyfriend's friend:
I wrote to you in 2015 about finding out that my boyfriend at the time had been lying to me about his history with his female best friend. Long story short, we split up and thank goodness for that. The longer tale:
We split up shortly after I wrote in, after I (yet again) discovered he had lied to me about spending time with "Leah." He begged his way back and we reunited a month later, and were up and down before finally splitting permanently 18 months later.
After reuniting, I discovered that he had exchanged emotionally unfaithful messages with his longer-term ex (different from Leah), and, in at least one case, even asked her if she would ever consider getting back together – all during our relationship. Oh, and he had also been lying about the timeline with Leah. It had continued until the night before he started things with me.
Lessons learned: 1. Recognize emotional abuse early. If someone tells you you're imagining things when your gut is saying something's wrong, or gets angry at you for expressing discomfort, run. This is called gaslighting! 2. Don't blame yourself for other people's shortcomings. My ex thrived on validation from other women, and despite what I told myself for years (and he occasionally told me, too), no level of amazing perfection in me would have changed that.
As far as how Love Letters helped: Your advice would have been very helpful if I had been a stronger individual at the time and stood up for myself, and communicated in the way you had suggested. However, partially because of my own shortcomings and partially because at that point I was deep in the gaslighting well of believing I was crazy and undeserving of loyalty, your advice mostly fell on deaf ears.
The commenters were quite harsh, but some of that could probably be chalked up to my not having explained how ridiculously he and "Leah" were crossing boundaries in their dynamic (alone and drunk at her apartment, or inviting her on vacations we were planning, or suggesting she take the available bedroom in his houseshare, to name a few!). I deeply appreciate the commenters who read between the lines and believed me, instead of jumping to the "crazy shrew" label. One comment in particular stuck with me as harsh but helpful: "You smelled something fishy because there is something fishy going on. Having said that, you sound very whiny and needy. Work on that."
Snaps to that! Worked on it, grew a lot, and I'm so much happier for it. (And, not that it matters much to this happy ending, but dating has been progressively more delightful as I work on self-love, self-trust, and self-respect.)
Snaps to that, indeed. For the record, the commenter who wrote the note that stuck with the letter writer was WINGER7. Thank you, WINGER7.
We'll do more updates tomorrow. In the meantime, send a letter, please.